View Full Version : SPECTACLEFEST 2007 Dining Reviews--with pics! Updated 10/31, Day 5, page 4 #53

Praying Colonel
09-08-2007, 12:13 PM
Cast of characters:

Me--44 y/o guy whose Dad was a butcher, instilling a love for a big hunk of meat on a grill every now and then.

DW--Raised in the country, so loves her veggies, the fresher the better--doesn't love beef as much as her husband.

DS16--Now 6-1, 230, can eat just about anything, anytime, except for 1 thing: mushrooms. :confused3

DNeph12--4-10, 75 lbs.--loves to eat but just can't eat much--yet. ;)

Day 1--ABC Commissary and L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante

We're in a distinct minority. Our family likes the ABC Commissary at MGM. Hopefully that doesn't cause you to immediately discredit these dining reviews. ;)

We stopped in around 11:30 a.m. during our Sunday 8/25 visit to MGM. As we'd experienced in the past, the restaurant was clean, cool and not very crowded. The nice lady running the register was from a town about 30 minutes away from where I grew up, so we talked for a minute about hometown stuff. The crowd was low, so we had time to share.

We like the variety of items you can order here. I ordered the Cuban sandwich, but subbed fries for the plantain chips. (I lived in the Caribbean for 3 years and always found plantains to taste very bland.)

^(Forgive the image quality on these Day 1 pics. Our camera fried and these are taken with a phone camera.)

Thin slices of tender ham and swiss cheese were combined with pickles and mustard on a crusty bun and then grilled on both sides. The sandwich was hot off the grill and everything was still hot. The buttery crispness of the outside of the bun goes very well with the gooey inside. Now that Tusker House is closed for CS (boo!), this is my favorite CS non-burger sandwich in WDW. The fries were your standard WDW fries, which IMHO is a good thing: WDW does fries very well, and these were crispy and warm.

DW and DNeph got the special cheeseburger with black bean salad.


I wish ABC Commissary had a fixins bar like Cosmic Rays and Pecos Bills. But the lettuce and tomato they put on the burger was fresh, and the burger was hot off the grill. DW and DNeph both liked their meals, but as we'd find would be the case throughout the week, DNeph's still a little guy and could only eat about a third of his meal.

DS got the fish and chips.


Battered fish served with your basic WDW fries. The fish tasted like the fish at Columbia Harbor House, a batter similar to what you'll get at a Captain D's. It was also very hot, as if it came right out of the fryer.

Dessert here is sugar-free strawberry parfait, or chocolate mousse. We all got the mousse.


It's a thick pudding on top of a chocolate syrup that has little crunchy chocolate things in it. Very rich, very chocolatey. There's not much there, but the richness of the flavor is still very satisfying. Very good for a CS dessert.

What do we like in a WDW CS restaurant? Food that's supposed to be hot being hot, food that's supposed to be fresh being fresh, a decent variety from which to choose, and efficient service so we can get in and get back out touring. ABC Commissary delivers.

That evening we were supposed to eat at Teppanyaki, but we got knocked out of that due to the refurb being extended. Our next choices (LeCellier, Coral Reef and Chefs de France) were unavailable at a time that worked for us. So we stewed over a 5th choice and decided to try Alfredo's, mainly because it would be leaving soon and we hadn't tried it yet. An added bonus of VIP viewing for Illuminations sealed the deal for us.

We checked in a few minutes early for our 7:00 ADR's and were told it would be a few minutes. The lobby was packed (probably due to the rain outside), so we weren't optimistic. But at 7:05 our name was called and we were taken to our table in the main dining room. Our server was gracious, took the time to explain menu options to us and was very efficient throughout the meal.

She brought bread with basic olive oil to start the meal.

^(Funny how Alfredo's can provide bread with their meals but Mama Melrose's charges extra, huh?)

I love just plain, extra virgin olive oil. This was the real thing, and went so well with the warm, crusty bread that it didn't need any of the spices served with the bread and oil at other restaurants. It was a great start to our meal.

For appetizers, DW ordered Alfredo's Famous Caesar Salad


while DS and DNeph ordered the lobster bisque


and I had to try an appetizer portion of Fettucine Alfredo.


DW liked her salad fine. She thought it had a little too much smoked bacon on it, but she wasn't in the mood for meat that evening. She liked the wafer crouton that was served with it. The dressing tasted house-made and was very creamy with a garlic taste to it.

DNeph didn't like his bisque. He was expecting more of a cream base, and this was tomatoey. He offered some of it to me, and I liked it very much. A creamy, tomato base with tastes of seafood throughout. DS liked his, too.

My Fettucine Alfredo: I never knew what Alfredo really was, I guess. I'd always had this milky stuff sold in a jar at Kroger. This was different, and incredibly good. It was more of a buttery taste with parmesan cheese melted into it. Not the creamy taste I'd always had. It was a glorious appetizer. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat Alfredo sauce from anyone else ever again. This was that good.

For our entrees, DW and DS had the Fettuccine Alla Vodka Con Gamberoni


while DNeph had the Salsicce E Fagioli All'Uccelletto, except served with Ziti instead of white beans


while I had the Arrosto Di Vitello Al Forno.


The Fettucine dish was cooked shrimp served on a bed of fettucine with a tomato and cream vodka sauce. This wasn't a big hit with DW or DS. DW just didn't like the sauce very much, and thought it was lukewarm. DS liked the tastes, but couldn't get past having to cut the tails off the shrimp. I had a taste and liked it fine, but also thought it was a little plain-tasting. Not especially flavorful.

DNeph liked his dish very much, but could only eat 2 of the sausage links and about 1/4 of the pasta. He offered his ol' uncle a taste, and it was very good. The sausage was warm and had a very spicy taste--you could definitely taste the fennel. It went very well with the ziti and the tomato sauce. This sauce was bursting with tomato flavor and spices and had a chunky texture. This all went very well together.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what I was getting when I ordered the veal roast. I certainly wasn't expecting what I got: slices of roasted veal with roasted potatoes, a roasted carrot and green beans cooked al dente, covered in a brown gravy. It didn't look like what I traditionally think of as Italian food: it looked more like what we might have in our house for Sunday dinner. But was it good! The veal was fork-tender and went so well with the roasted potatoes, which were roasted with rosemary and other spices. The carrot was roasted plain, but went well with the other tastes and textures. I don't care for my green beans al dente (I'm a southern boy, so prefer them cooked mushy with bacon grease and onions ;) ), but it was good, too.

For dessert, DW had tiramisu


while DS and DNeph had a chocolate cake (name escapes me now, sorry)


and I had the cannoli.


DW is a big tiramisu fan, and she liked her dessert very much. The cake was spongy and fresh, the whipped cream tasted house-made and the cocoa powder sprinkled around it added a little extra that my chocolate-loving wife appreciated. ;)

DS and DNeph liked their cake, too. The white chocolate garnish was a nice touch, as was the raspberry on top.

Again, I had a revelation. I'd never had a cannoli before. I didn't know what I'd been missing all this time. A cream-cheese filling with chocolate chips surrounded by a crisp, flaky pastry. Wow. I don't like fillings or icings that are too sweet. The cream cheese filling was perfect. You could really taste the cheese in it. The chocolate chips provided most of the sweetness. And the pastry was so good. This was probably my favorite dessert of the week. It left me wondering, "Where can I get cannolis in Louisville?" :)

Our opinions of this meal were mixed. DW enjoyed her dessert, thought her salad was OK and didn't care for her entree. DS loved everything but his entree, DNeph didn't like his appetizer but loved everything else. Me, I thought it was all wonderful and would rate this my 2nd favorite meal of the week. I wish we could have the chance to try it again, but it's gone now. :( I hear it's re-opening at another location in Orlando, so maybe we'll have a chance to try it again. (Especially if the 2008 DDP changes cause us to stay and eat off-site, as I suspect they will.)

For those of you scoring at home, the cost of this meal OOP would've been $203, excluding tip. If we were on the 2008 version of the DDP, we would've had to pay about $36 for the tip and $37 for the appetizers, so our OOP cost on the 2008 DDP plan would've been $73. Add that to the $37.95 cost of the DDP for 4 people, and the 2008 cost to eat on this day would've been $224.80, or $56.20 per person.

Next: Day 2--A new restaurant and a return to an old favorite

09-08-2007, 12:22 PM
wow!! Thanks - I never thought of fish sticks!! Great pic!

and I love how you are wrapping up with an amount for 2008 plan - but I think a part got deleted!

(or I need glasses)

Praying Colonel
09-08-2007, 12:28 PM
I accidentally forgot to delete part of a sentence. I think it's correct now. Thanks. :thumbsup2

09-08-2007, 12:46 PM
I love your reviews....please keep 'em coming! :cheer2:

09-08-2007, 01:24 PM
I loved your reviews from last year! I'm really looking forward to the rest of this year's. Thanks so much for posting them!

09-08-2007, 02:52 PM
Great start - thanks

09-08-2007, 02:59 PM
Thanks for your math!! $203 if paying oop - with the changes to the '08 dining plan $56 per person - 4 people....

its definately an example of MGM (ie Mickey's Got your Money)

09-08-2007, 03:01 PM
Ooohh, keep em coming!!!!!!

09-08-2007, 05:14 PM
:thumbsup2 Great reviews. The Cuban from the Commisary looked quite yummy.

09-08-2007, 05:32 PM
great start - looking forward to the rest - I read your dining reviews last year and enjoyed them very much

09-08-2007, 05:39 PM
Great to being reading your reviews again. I caught the last episode.
Looking forward to more. Appreciate the pics and details.

09-08-2007, 05:56 PM
We like ABC Comissary too! :)

Looking forward to more!

John's Mom
09-08-2007, 05:58 PM
Really enjoying your reviews. Thanks for posting.

09-08-2007, 06:09 PM
Great review and pictures. I like how you added it up at the end.

09-09-2007, 07:04 AM
Great review looking forward to the rest popcorn::

09-09-2007, 08:18 AM
Can't wait for the rest...thanks!!!

09-09-2007, 09:36 AM
We're in a distinct minority. Our family likes the ABC Commissary at MGM. Hopefully that doesn't cause you to immediately discredit these dining reviews. ;)

Just want to say, I'm in that same minority. DH and I like ABC Commissary also. On our last trip he had the cuban and loved it and I had the fish and chips which were also good. Great start so far, looking forward to the next installment. :thumbsup2

09-09-2007, 11:25 AM
Excellent, looking forward to more:thumbsup2

09-09-2007, 01:58 PM
More, please - can't wait to read the rest! I absolutely love your reviews!

09-09-2007, 02:09 PM
Love seeing reviews from fellow Kentuckians,:thumbsup2 and yours was one of the best, I must say. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

09-09-2007, 02:39 PM
Great reviews! Waiting patiently for more :goodvibes .

09-09-2007, 03:13 PM
Fantastic more please

09-09-2007, 03:21 PM
Great reviews!

09-09-2007, 08:13 PM
great reviews, keep them coming :)

09-09-2007, 08:33 PM
Great reviews! Can't wait for more!:thumbsup2

09-09-2007, 10:38 PM
Subscribing!! :thumbsup2

09-10-2007, 08:49 AM
Yay! :cheer2: Praying Colonel is back! :goodvibes

Really enjoy your reviews.

Praying Colonel
09-12-2007, 07:31 PM
Since our favorite CS in AK (Tusker House) is closed, we went with our 2nd choice: Flame Tree BBQ. We showed up to eat around 11:30. They were busy, but the lines moved pretty smoothly. We had our order about 5 minutes after getting in line. DW found a shady spot by some water, but I'd just hauled all of our food to another shady spot a good bit away from there, and we ate there because we didn't feel like moving again. (And by "we," I meant "me." ;) )

DW and DNeph got the ribs


while DS and I got the pulled pork sandwich.


DNeph couldn't eat all of his, so he gave some to the birds and gave me a taste, too. ;) They were served with sauce on the side, which I prefer. I like my ribs Memphis-style, with a dry rub. If they're cooked right, they don't need any sauce. These ribs didn't need any. They were fresh, spicy and tender. I've had better ribs, but at well-known places like the Rendezvous. For "fast food" CS, these were excellent.

My pulled pork sandwich came with an abundance of pork meat on a bun. Again, I was glad to see that the sauce came on the side. The meat was smoky, seasoned perfectly, warm and moist. There wasn't much, if any, fat in the meat. Again, top-notch for CS bbq.

I didn't care for the side items. I don't like my cornbread sweet, and this corn muffin was definitely sweet--in fact, it tasted more like cake than a corn muffin. I also thought the baked beans were too sweet. Next time I think I'll see if I can sub fries and/or slaw for the muffin or beans.

AK was hot, hot, hot that day, so I got the frozen lemonade for lunch. It was your standard pre-packaged Minute Maid lemonade, but it was very refreshing and helped cool me off a little. DW and DS enjoyed their key lime pie very much.

Overall, we enjoyed Flame Tree and would definitely come back again, especially if we were on the DDP. I didn't enjoy the sides, but I was in the minority. And we all enjoyed the bbq very much.

That night, we returned to one of our favorite restaurants from last year's trip: the Kona Cafe.


We had 5:30 ADR's and waited about 10 minutes before we were seated. I think the secret's out on the Kona: last year, we had the restaurant virtually to ourselves. This year, however, it was quite busy.


Our server, Marisol, was pleasant and tried very hard, but it appeared that she had her hands full covering so many tables at once. It resulted in service a little less prompt than what we'd experienced in the past. But she really did seem to be giving it her best.

Marisol told us we could order smoothies for drinks on the DDP, and DS and DNeph both ordered one:



They were both fruity, tangy and cool. A great start to their meals, they said.

They brought bread for a starter with macadamia-infused butter.


The bread was warm, yeasty and soft both on the outside and on the inside. The sweetness of the macadamias in the butter made this taste almost like a pastry.

For appetizers, DW ordered the Kona Salad


DS ordered the Kona Chowder


DNeph ordered the sticky wings


while I ordered the crab cakes.


DW liked her salad very much. The citrus vinaigrette was a good counterpoint to the bleu cheese and the smoked almonds.

DS loved his Kona Chowder last year and looked forward to having it again. It did not disapoint, he said. It's not the kind of chowder you expect when you think of New England clam chowder. It was a smooth, almost bisque-like soup with chunks of seafood throughout. Creamy and tasty.

DNeph gave me one of his wings, and let me tell you, it was beautiful. Sweet, tangy and soy, all glazed on perfectly cooked wings. I'm not a big fan of chicken wings, but I was immediately sorry I didn't order these. They're definitely on my must-dos for next trip.

The Kona crab cakes are my favorite crabcakes anywhere. They're cooked just right, but the accompaniments are what make them. The sweet pineapple relish and wasabi-based sauce really jazz them up.

For our entrees, the 3 of us who ate there last year ordered the same things we had before. DW ordered the macadamia mahi-mahi


while DS and I had the shrimp and scallops.


DNeph ordered the prime rib.


DW was a little disappointed in her entree. She gave me a bite and I thought it was superb. I love the lime sauce and onions and top, and the bok choy is very tasty. But she thought it was cooked a little dry. To her, it tasted like it had been sitting under a warming lamp for a few minutes.

DS and I loved our shrimp and scallops. I like shrimp, but I love scallops. These were perfect. Seared on the outside, plump and juicy on the inside, drizzled with a wasabi cream sauce that I could've eaten by itself. The sticky rice soaked in the juice from the scallops and the sauce, and also had a fruity garnish on top that added some nice taste, too. The shrimp are a little too breaded for my taste, but they were hot and tasted good with a bite of the sticky rice mixture.

The prime rib dish would've been enough for 2 people easily. With 75-lb. DNeph eating, probably more like 3. ;) He's a little guy, but he did his best with his entree, and he really enjoyed it. There wasn't much Polynesian about this entree: roasted prime rib cooked medium and accompanied with steamed broccoli and a large portion of golden mashed potatoes. Everything was hot and cooked just right, he said.

For dessert, DW had the macadamia nut tart


DS had the white chocolate cheesecake


DNeph had the Kona Cone


and I had the Kilauea Torte.


The Torte was wonderful, again. It was warm and moist, and when you cut into it gooey chocolate oozed out and mixed nicely with the whipped cream. Little dabs of lemon and raspberry sauce added flair and flavor, too.

DNeph loved his Kona Cone, a sugary mix of cotton candy and a chocolate Mickey head on top of a waffle cone with ice cream and chocolate syrup. He didn't come close to finishing it, but he had fun trying! :rotfl:

DS loves white chocolate, and he loves cheescake. This was right in his wheelhouse. I think he liked it--it was gone before his ol' Dad could ask for a bite.

Whatever they'd done to DW's entree, it was all forgiven when she had the tart. She loves chocolate, and this was chocolatey to the max. Very thick, almost like fudge. The ice cream was perfect with it. Again, this could've been a dessert for 2 people, easily.

Overall, we enjoyed this meal very much. It wasn't like last year. Last year, everything was absolutely perfect. The atmosphere was quiet and intimate, our server could focus on our table and give us outstanding service, and the meal was perfect. It was a magical time. This year, I think the free dining resulted in a busier restaurant which took away some of that magic. Plus, like I said, I think Kona Cafe's no longer a secret. But the meal was still very good, especially for free dining. We'll definitely be back again. (I have to try those sticky wings!) :)

For those of you scoring at home, the cost of this meal OOP would've been $162, excluding tip. If we were on the 2008 version of the DDP, we would've had to pay about $30 for the tip and $31 for the appetizers, so our OOP cost on the 2008 DDP plan would've been $61. Add that to the $37.95 cost of the DDP for 4 people, and the 2008 cost to eat on this day would've been $212.80, or $53.20 per person. The average cost per person after 2 days would be $54.70 per person.

09-12-2007, 08:21 PM
Thanks for the Kona reviews and pics. I can't wait to try the crab cakes. They look so good! Can an adult order the Kona Cone? I can't resist cotton candy.

09-12-2007, 08:33 PM
I so enjoyed your dining reviews from last year. So much so, that my friend and I ate at Kona in September of that year. I also enjoyed your review and trip report of CSR so much that I am staying there in December.

I promise I'm harmless. ;)

09-13-2007, 10:02 AM
:thumbsup2 great report and Pic's!

09-13-2007, 03:52 PM
Can't wait for the rest. Thank you for sharing.:)

09-13-2007, 07:05 PM
Thanks for installment 2 :) .

I can't wait to try Kona :cool1: .

09-19-2007, 08:51 AM
Loved the reviews! I want more! You have such a great way with words.

Praying Colonel
09-24-2007, 11:34 AM
Today we were doing early EMH at Epcot. Our CS experiences at Epcot had been limited and uneven, so for lunch we decided to try someplace new (for us): Sunshine Seasons in the Land pavilion.

Sunshine Seasons is set up a lot like other CS food courts at WDW: they have different stations for different types of food (sandwiches, Asian, grill, hot food, desserts and drinks). You get what you want, then pay on the way out to your table. It's a neat way for everyone to get what they want without a long line building.

DS and DNeph each got the smoked ham and salami grinder


while DW got the grilled veggie sandwich


and I got the 2 entrees and 2 sides from the Asian section.


The grinder was a very nice, fresh deli sandwich. The ham and salami was thinly sliced, juicy and tasty. The lettuce, onions and tomatos on top were also fresh. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. It looked like it had a dressing on it, but it didn't. The boys had to go get some mayo and mustard to add to it. They enjoyed their sandwiches very much.

DW's grilled veggie sandwich was the best choice of the 3, IMHO. Thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant and roasted peppers were grilled and placed on a flaky hoagie roll with melted swiss cheese and mustard. A nice collection of tastes and textures that made this an unusual (and unusually good) deli sandwich.

I picked sweet and sour chicken and chicken with chinese veggies to go with vegetable lo mein and rice. This was disappointing. The entrees were soggy, lukewarm and the chicken was gristly. I hate biting into a piece of thigh meat and getting a bite of gristle. That was my first bite. It kind of ruined the dish for me. The vegetable lo mein was the best part of the dish.

For dessert, DNeph and DS each had the Butterfinger cheesecake


DW had a Butterfinger brownie


and I had the strawberry shortcake.


My shortcake was wonderful. 3 layers of spongy, white shortcake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, then covered with more whipped cream, a strawberry drizzle and a fresh strawberry on top. Big enough for 2 people to share (which was good since I didn't eat much of my entree). Just a real treat.

The Butterfinger cheesecake was light and fluffy, with pieces of candy throughout. It tasted less like cheesecake and more like a pie of some sort, but was very tasty.

DW's brownie was very chocolaty, but there wasn't very much Butterfinger in it, according to her. She liked it OK but would've preferred my shortcake.

Overall, this was a mixed bag. I really enjoyed my dessert but didn't like my entree at all. DW really enjoyed her entree but thought her dessert was so-so. The boys both enjoyed their sandwiches and desserts. We'll come back, but probably make some different choices.

We'd decided we were going to try a 2 TS restaurant during our stay, so we were going to pay OOP for a CS meal for 1 dinner that week. This was that dinner: we ate at our resort's food court, Everything Pop. Like Sunshine Seasons, EP has different stations for grilled items, sandwiches, home-cooking-style entrees, pizza, baked goods and ice cream. Each person gets what they want, then you meet up, pay and find a table. We ate around 6:30 pm, and in spite of Pop seeming very busy that week, we found there wasn't much of a wait to be served.

DW ordered the Chicken Mediterranean Flatbread


DS ordered a meatball parm sub


DNeph ordered a hot dog and fries


while I had Nachos Supreme.


The Nachos were like ballpark nachos: chips layered with chili, cheese, tomatoes, olives and sour cream and salsa on the side. Everything was hot, fresh and plentiful. Satisfied my ballpark-food craving. :)

DS' meatball sub was covered with parmesan cheese and served on a hoagie roll with a side of pepperoncini peppers. It was also very hot, and DS (a connoisseur of meatball subs ;) ) liked it very much.

DNeph's entree was your basic dog and fries. Nothing special, good or bad.

DW's flatbread was definitely not your standard food-court fare. Grilled chicken, chopped artichokes, feta cheese and olives on a freshly-baked flatbread. DW loves this type of food, and she was thrilled to get something like this at a food court. She saved all this for herself. ;)

We used our refillable mugs for our drinks and didn't order dessert.

We enjoyed our CS meal here and saw many other choices we would've tried, as well. If we're ever at Pop in the future and want CS, we won't hesitate to eat here again.

Cost OOP for this meal was $27.20. If we were on the 2008 DDP, the OOP cost difference would've been 0, since we would've been paying OOP for this meal either way (so as to have a 2 TS meal later in the week). Total OOP cost to eat the same food on the 08 DDP vs. the 07 DDP remained at $134 for our trip.

Next: 2 meals and a snack, Magic Kingdom-style

09-24-2007, 02:14 PM
Reaslly enjoying your reviews, although I'm not sure I'm with you on the math. You don't seem to be figuring in the cost of your CS meals when you are working out the value of the plan per day, which automatically means the plan is not going to seem like such a good deal - or have I got it totally wrong :confused3

Regardless, thanks for the reviews - looking forward to more :thumbsup2

Praying Colonel
09-24-2007, 06:57 PM
What I'm trying to do is figure the difference between what I'm paying to do the DDP in 07 vs. what the cost would be to eat the same food on the 08 version of the DDP--e.g., the tips/appetizers on the 07 DDP we'd have to pay for on the 08 version of the DDP.

The cost for the 1 CS meal we're doing OOP (the Pop Century meal) would be the same whether we were doing the 07 version of the DDP or the 08 version of the DDP, so I didn't factor that in. I hope that makes sense--and thanks for the kind words.

09-24-2007, 07:13 PM
I'm really enjoying your reviews (and your math).

I have never had lunch at the ABC commissary but they do have a good breakfast.

Aurora borealis
09-25-2007, 02:34 PM
We're in a distinct minority. Our family likes the ABC Commissary at MGM.
You're not alone! DH and I love the ABC Commissary, as far as CS food goes. I love the selection and every time we've eaten there everything has been fresh and hot. I wonder why so many people are down on it? :confused3 Maybe they just got the burger or chicken tenders or something boring like that...

Great dining review so far!

09-25-2007, 04:35 PM
wow that strawberry shortcake looks amazing! i am definitely getting that when i go! thanks for the reviews and pics! :)

09-26-2007, 04:08 AM
Great photos, i'm gutted we never got to try Alfredo di Roma...the new Tutto Italia menu is horrible compared to Alfredo's...:sad2:

Loving the reviews :cool1:

10-06-2007, 10:55 PM
Another :thumbsup2 for ABC Commissary from our family too! We don't understand what all the fuss is about either. Why all the hostility?:rotfl2:

10-07-2007, 12:13 AM
I'm very much enjoying your review! :goodvibes

10-07-2007, 12:35 AM
What I'm trying to do is figure the difference between what I'm paying to do the DDP in 07 vs. what the cost would be to eat the same food on the 08 version of the DDP--e.g., the tips/appetizers on the 07 DDP we'd have to pay for on the 08 version of the DDP.

The cost for the 1 CS meal we're doing OOP (the Pop Century meal) would be the same whether we were doing the 07 version of the DDP or the 08 version of the DDP, so I didn't factor that in. I hope that makes sense--and thanks for the kind words.

I think you misunderstood what the PP was saying. It wasn't about your OOP meal at POP - but the rest of your CS meals eaten on the DP. In your calculations, you don't say how much they (the CS) were "costing", showing only the "cost" of your meals for the day to be the TS meals you eat. Then your OOP total is, understandably, what you would spend on appetizer and tip in 2008's plan - but your only calculation for the price of dinner is just the price of the plan. The total cost should also include the CS in some way - or at least just list it somewhere. That way it shows that you are saving or not saving, but it's actually listed instead of just guessed or making it falsely seem, in most instances, like the DDP is costing you more than you would pay OOP.

I was confused reading it the first time, too, but I realized that your CS meals were probably running around $40 so you'd come in just a hair ahead on DDP '08. *sigh* that it is not as good.... but still a savings in the cases you have listed and it should be told as such.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying your reviews and am appreciative of your breakdowns! What dedication to us DISsers taking pics on your cell - thanks! Keep 'em coming!

Dis Ohana
10-07-2007, 02:33 AM
Great reviews and pics! I read your reviews last year and I'm enjoying this one just as much.

10-07-2007, 02:45 PM
GREAT Reviews once again. I loved them last year too. I understand what you are trying to do with the math. The counterservice meal is bascially a wash since you got it in 07 and in 08. You are adding the difference if you pay for an appy and tip to the cost of the plan. I guess my thought would be... Would you share an appy and not order so many if they were not included. Therefore it is probably skewed a bit. I find the 08 plan to be not worth it in our case just due to the tip alone. We were barely breaking even on the 07 version of the plan. We do alot of buffett/character meals so it is hardly a bargain for us just convienient.

Praying Colonel
10-21-2007, 02:52 PM
Let me start with an apology. Sorry it's been so long since I posted an update--I've been dealing with a case of the shingles for a few weeks. Better now, and I'm ready to get back in the swing of things. :thumbsup2

This day was a MK day, all day. And for us, no MK day is complete without a visit to Aloha Isle for a Dole Whip.


We arrived about 10:50 a.m., but they weren't open yet. While we waited for the shutters to open, we chatted with a member of the Dream Squad. We had a nice talk, but no dream at that time. Oh, well...

We were first to be served that day. DW and I had Dole Whips


while DS and DNeph had Dole Floats.


The Dole Whips were soft-serve vanilla ice cream with tangy pineapple taste blended in. Even at 11 a.m., the heat and humidity was in full effect on that August day. The Dole Whips were real pick-me-ups. They must put pixie dust in the things, because we always come away refreshed and ready to take off for some more touring. It was DNeph's first Dole Float, and he gave it his seal of approval:


Lunch that day was at Cosmic Rays. We arrived around 12:15 and found manageable lines. We planned on "stretching" our CS credits so we could have 2 left for sharing in our last day in the park (Saturday of Labor Day weekend). We decided Cosmic Rays was a great choice for sharing. The burgers are huge, the fixins bar is even "huger" ;) , so we ordered 2 bacon double cheeseburger meals and split them among the 4 of us.


The burgers were warm and fresh as if they'd come right off the grill. The fries were hot, too. I loaded my 1/2 burger with tomatoes, lettuce, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, pickles, ketchup and mustard. Great burger--don't think I could've eaten a whole one, not with all the fixins!

For dessert, DS and DNeph split a triple chocolate cake


and DW and I split a carrot cake.


They were pre-packaged, but our group really enjoyed them, anyway. The carrot cake was moist and had a nice cream-chese topping. I really enjoyed it. The boys enjoyed the triple-chocolate cake. DNeph even went slow on his burger so he could have room for cake. Isn't he a great planner? ;)

Cosmic Rays is my favorite CS restaurant in the MK, and once again it did not disappoint. Wish they had the cheese back on the fixins bar, but other than that, they came through again.

After our afternoon break, we returned to MK for a 5:10 ADR at Crystal Palace.


We'd never eaten here before. DW usually doesn't like buffets because she doesn't like feeling so stuffed afterward. But she's also a big fan of Pooh and his friends, so we thought we'd give it a go.

We were worried we'd made a mistake when we arrived around 5:00. There was a crowd spilling out onto the porch and a line about 10 deep to check in. In spite of this, our names were called around 5:15--not bad at all.

When we were seated by our server, a nice lady who comes from a town about 30 minutes from my hometown, she let us know the basic pattern the characters took when they were making the rounds. That let us know if we had time to grab another plate before a character arrived, very important info.

We started with a trip to the salad bar:


^DNeph's plate: Tossed salad with ranch dressing, peel and eat shrimp

^My plate, clockwise from top: hearts of palm salad with coucous, peel and eat shrimp, cranberry rolls and mozzallera-and-tomato salad, with a dab of pulled pork in the middle :)

The salads were great. Several different choices--more than your basic garden salad. It was well-stocked and very tasty. The rolls were awesome (as you can tell from my having 2 on my plate!)--there were several different choices, but I liked the cranberry rolls. They were grainy, with pieces of cranberries in them. Fresh baked and still warm. The flavored butters were nice, too. I put chipotle butter on mine--you wouldn't think it would go with a cranberry roll, but the sweet and spicy went very well together.

There were some nice choices among the entrees and side dishes, too.

^My plate, clockwise from top: spoon bread, pasta alfredo, blackened mahi mahi, pulled pork, prime rib with a veal demiglace, cranberry relish, more pulled pork

^DNeph's plate, clockwise from top: roll with chipotle butter, chicken tenders, cheese pizza and blackened mahi mahi

DW's plate, clockwise from top: cranberry relish, blackened salmon, pasta alfredo, garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli, sauteed onions and mushrooms and spoon bread

(In the midst of all the eating and character greeting, we didn't get a pic of DS' plate.)

We were all impressed with the variety, the fact that it was still warm and didn't appear picked through, and that everything had a little twist to it. The mashed potatoes had roasted garlic in them, the cranberry relish was like a chutney, with mangoes and other tangy ingredients, the spoon bread was spicy and the demiglace for the prime rib gave it a nice savoriness. The only thing that wasn't a huge hit was the blackened salmon or mahi mahi. It was lukewarm and the blackening didn't add much flavor. It was also a little mushy. But other than that, the entree/side dishes were big hits.

So big, in fact, that we were way too full for dessert. :eek: We each got a little something. The boys got small ice cream sundaes, and DW and I each had some coconut flan. It was awesome--thick, creamy custard with sweet coconut giving it a tropical feel. I wish I'd saved more room for dessert--maybe next time.

All the while, the characters were making the rounds, and did so very efficiently. We were here about an hour and 15 minutes, and all of the characters made it around during that time. They were well-spaced throughout the meal, coming by every 10-15 minutes or so. We didn't get the feeling that we had to rush through our meal to see them, or that we had to linger a long time after we were finished, waiting for them to come. They did a nice job of pacing.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. This was an above-average buffet, with lots of nice variety in it to give it a change of pace. Combine that with the character interaction, and this was a big hit. We'll come back again (I hope--if DW can get over her buffet-a-phobia ;) ).

The cost for this meal OOP for the 4 of us would've been $118.68, excluding tip. If we were on the 2008 version of the DDP, we would've had to pay about $21 for the tip OOP. Add to that the $134 we would've had to pay OOP for appetizers/tips on this trip so far, and at this point we'd be paying $155 more OOP in 08 to have the same dining experience we'd had so far on this August 07 trip.

Next: A rare Disney dining disappointment

10-21-2007, 04:25 PM
Thanks for the reviews, Colonel! Sorry about the shingles; boy those aren't any fun. Dad had a bout of it a couple months ago. Thankfully, just around his waist.

Go Cats!

10-21-2007, 11:58 PM
glad you're feeling better!!

thanks again for the great reviews!

I think I might have to try CP....

10-26-2007, 06:18 PM
Hi, Praying Colonel! :wave2:

I don't know if you remember me. We pm'd a couple of times re: your advice on directions to WDW. Anyway, I loved your reviews last year and I have to say this year's reviews are just as good!

We ate at a lot of the same restaurants as you did this year. We also liked Flame Tree (in the absence of Tusker House) and we loved Kona again. Sadly the crab cakes have been removed from the menu and the Kilauea Torte as we know it is gone as well.

Thanks for the CP review. I've always wondered how the buffet food is as we don't usually go to buffets but now they seem to make more sense since our appetizers have been taken away for 2008.

I also love the 07/08 comparison. I've been wondering about the figures but just haven't worked up the energy to do the math. So thanks!

One more thing.....how 'bout those CATS!

Praying Colonel
10-31-2007, 08:44 AM
Hi Melinda! Sure, I remember you. Yep, the Cats are doing well this year. :cheer2: Hopefully they'll shake off that ugly loss to Mississippi State last Saturday. :headache:

And thanks for the kind words, everybody--another day of reviews is coming today.

10-31-2007, 12:27 PM
subscribing...great reviews so far.

10-31-2007, 12:58 PM
Great Reviewspopcorn::

Praying Colonel
10-31-2007, 02:02 PM
Our gang really likes Columbia Harbour House.


It's a nice change of pace if you're tired of burgers and fries. Plus, we've found in the past that it's not quite as busy as other CS restaurants.

Apparently the word's getting out on CHH, however. We arrived around 11:30, hoping to beat the lunch rush, but found it very busy already. They opened a new station and took our order after a wait of a few minutes. Apparently the folks cooking the food were behind on some items, however, because it took almost 10 minutes for them to prepare our order and bring it to us.

DS and DNeph had the combo basket


while DW and I had the half sandwich and bowl of soup.


The basket was chicken strips, fried fish and fries. The wait for the food was worth it, IMHO, because these items were crispy and HOT, like they were right out of the fryer. They weren't overly greasy, either. Good, basic, American, artery-clogging, fried food. :)

DW and I thoroughly enjoyed our soup and sandwich. It was very hot and humid that day, and I just didn't feel like fried food. The sandwich looked like it had just been made. Everything was fresh, and the lettuce and tomato was cool, like it had just been taken out of the fridge and sliced. The ham was tender and sweet.

I'm guessing the clam chowder was not made from scratch in the restaurant, but it sure tasted like it. The clams in the chowder were plentiful and not tough, and there was some herb in it (parsley?) that added a little extra.

For dessert, the guys all got the chocolate cake


while DW got the apple crisp.


DW definitely won. The chocolate cake was your basic Disney pre-packaged chocolate cake--OK, but nothing special. Her apple crisp looked fresh-made, with a flaky crust and chunks of sliced apples and a cinnamony filling. She could only eat half, and she was nice enough to share with me. :love:

So even though we had to wait a little longer than usual to get our food, we thought it was worth the wait. This is a very good CS restaurant and we'll definitely return. :thumbsup2

Our TS meal that day was one that we were all looking forward to experiencing--Narcoosees at the Grand Floridian. We'd never eaten at a Signature restaurant, and based on the reviews we'd read here on the DIS, we decided to pay OOP for CS one evening and use 2 TS credits to try Narcoosees. We booked a 9:10 ADR, hoping to see Wishes here at 10.

We arrived around 9 and were given a beeper to wait. We went outside and sat on the bench, enjoying the cooler evening air and the view of the lake. Our beeper went off around 9:15 and we went inside.

We were hoping for a table next to a window, but we didn't get it. That was fine, though, because the table we received was positioned so that we still had a great view of the MK for the upcoming fireworks. Narcoosee's is generally arranged with a lower tier of tables, with one row along the windows and another row back a few feet behind those. Then there's a top tier of tables above that. Even if you're not sitting right at a window, there's a still a good chance you're going to have a good viewing spot. While we were waiting for our server, the water pageant came by--it was our first time seeing it, and it was very enjoyable to watch. And later, we had a great view of Wishes. Nobody was standing or sitting on the bench outside the window where we were viewing Wishes, so we had a relatively unobstructed view, and it was a magic moment for us.

Our server was--well, it's hard to describe--she seemed odd. She had this huge, plastic smile, like she was trying to overdo it. The smile wasn't there at all if she was speaking, but then she immediately went right back to this overly full smile, like someone was taking her picture and she was doing one of those fake "cheeeeeeeese" smiley poses. And when she came to take our drink order we asked if the lobster was on the DDP, she rolled her eyes and said "I'm afraid so." Just--odd. Service from her would continue to be odd throughout our meal.

For our appetizers, DW ordered the artisan cheeses


DS had the Narcoosees chowder


DNeph had the chilled shrimp


while I had the fried oysters.


While we were waiting for our apps, we were given bread and butter.


The oysters were breaded a little too heavily for my liking, but they were still very good. They weren't tough, were warm, tasted sweet and the breading had a peppery seasoning that was very tasty. They came with two dipping sauces, one that was creamy and spicy, like a chipotle. The other was like a teriyaki--soy with a little sweet. Overall, a nice appetizer.

DW loved her artisan cheeses. This is her kind of food--little bits of different tastes and textures. The accompaniments and the walnut toast made the appetizer, she thought.

DS loved his chowder. Although it was listed as a chowder, the soup looked and tasted more like a bisque, with chunks of fish and seafood throughout. It was warm and full of flavor. He loves soup, and he was not disappointed with this.

Although DNeph wasn't too sure about the stuff that came with his shrimp ;) , he liked the shrimp themselves. He said they were plump and juicy.

While waiting for our appetizer, DW decided she'd like a glass of wine with her appetizer. She told our server this when the server brought the appetizers to our table, and this was the beginning of a series of significant delays in bringing items to our table. It took the server about 15 minutes to return with the glass of wine. The server then took our finished appetizer plates and stayed gone for about another 15 minutes. She returned with candles and small crocs to hold butter and keep it warm for the lobster, but 1 of the candles did not light. She said she'd grab another candle, but did not return with one--instead, she brought our lobsters about 15 minutes after that.

Yes, we all ordered lobster. :)


It came with roasted asparagus and potato gratin. We were disappointed with our entrees. The lobster and potatoes were barely warm. The asparagus was at room temperature. The lobster had a rubbery texture, as if it had been steamed and allowed to sit for a while afterward.

I just got the feeling from the uneven nature of our service and the temperature and texture of our entrees that it had been plated and ready to bring out for quite some time, but had been allowed to sit and cool before it was brought to us. Combine that with our server's reaction when she learned we were on the DDP, and I got the feeling she was blowing us off because we were on DDP and she was guaranteed a tip regardless. It was the only time we've eaten on DDP at WDW and had that feeling.

We might have said something to our server, but we didn't get the chance. After she brought our plates, we didn't see her again. She didn't return to fill our empty drink glasses, to ask how our meals were or to take our dessert orders. She just stayed gone. And gone. And gone.

By this time it was 11:05. We were almost 2 hours into our meal, and not only had our server not even taken our dessert order, but given that she'd been gone for so long, we had no idea when or if she might return to our table. We were concerned that if taking our dessert order and bringing our dessert orders went with the same efficiency (or lack thereof) as things had gone to this point, we might miss Disney transportation back to our resort. Around 11:15 DW said she'd take the boys back to the MK bus stop via the monorail and let me order desserts to go. A couple of minutes after they left, our server finally returned and asked if I'd like dessert. :sad2:

I ordered 2 almond-crusted cheesecakes and 2 key-lime creme brulees--to go. :) I finally left the restaurant around 11:35, 2 hours and 20 minutes after we started dinner, with desserts in hand. I didn't take pics of these because we didn't eat them until the following afternoon, for a snack. It's probably not fair to comment since we didn't eat them until much later, but I will say that I enjoyed the cheesecake and think it would've been awesome if we'd been able to eat them when intended.

So, to summarize our experience at Narcoosees:

1. Wonderful atmosphere;
2. Magical venue for viewing the water pageant and Wishes;
3. Great appetizers;
4. Inattentive service which probably resulted in
4a. mediocre entrees and
4b. unsatisfactory dessert experience.

I read so many positive reviews of Narcoosees that I have to believe our experience is the exception rather than the rule. I think our dinner here probably would've been much more positive if we'd had a different server.

Would we try it here again? We could never afford to do it OOP, and I'm not sure if I'd want to spend another 2 TS credits in the hopes that it would be better, especially with the upcoming DDP changes.

The cost for this meal OOP for the 4 of us (not counting DW's glass of wine) would've been $344.56, excluding tip. If we were on the 2008 version of the DDP, we would've had to pay about $47 for the appetizers and $52 for the tip, for a total of $99 OOP. Add to that the $155 we would've had to pay OOP for appetizers/tips on this trip so far, and at this point we'd be paying $254 more OOP in 08 to have the same dining experience we'd had so far on this August 07 trip.

Next: We return to 2 old favorites

10-31-2007, 07:43 PM
Thanks for the great reviews and pictures! You have some pictures of things we ate that I didn't get a picture of, so its like a walk down food memory lane to see them again. :goodvibes I like your honest opinions on how you and your family liked their food!

10-31-2007, 09:02 PM
I'm so very sorry about your experience at Narcoossee's. We have eaten there on our last three trips and have been well pleased each time. I hope we don't get the same server you did on our visit.

My father is going with us and I have planned a dinner there so he can see the water pagent for the first time in over 20 years and so we can see Wishes from the restaurant. I hope the food and service live up to my descriptions to him. (Keeping my fingers crossed).

I've been enjoying your reviews of this trip and I enjoyed your reviews of last year's trip. Your descriptions have been fair and I have found them very helpful.

10-31-2007, 09:15 PM
wow those lobsters must be expensive!!! I'd say the signatures are the reason for the DDP changes - look at all that extra cash you'd have in tip on that one!

anyway, good reviews as always. Sorry about your lackluster service at Narcoosee's. The DDP brush-off is not cool. I can't believe how long it took for you to even order dessert!

11-04-2007, 06:55 AM
Great minds certainly think alike! ;)

We also ate at CHH and Narcoossee's during our September trip!!

RE: CHH...good food as always and a nice, cool, quiet break from the MK in the upstairs dining room. This year DD and I split the tuna salad sandwich and the hummus/broccoli slaw sandwich and I have to say the hummus sandwich won hands down. The apple crisp was really good!

RE: Narcoossee's....DD14 chose it as her birthday dinner. Our ADR was at 6pm and the restaurant was pretty empty. We were on the upper tier next to the bar. Our server, Nelson, gave us the absolute best service we had the entire week. He treated DD like a princess, kept bowing to her, and made a huge fuss over her birthday...which was printed on our menus.

I had the mussels for an app...which were out of the world delicious. DD14 and I had the lobster and I have to say the cheesy potatoes seemed an odd pairing. (I'd prefer rice pilaf.) DD17 had the crab crusted halibut and gave a big "mmmm" with every bite she took. The almond crusted cheesecake was the best cheesecake I have ever had! Bar none! And the presentation was divine! Have you seen a picture? With the little edible sugar screen of Cinderella as a back drop? Absolutely wonderful!!! I'm just so sorry your server ruined what could have been an awesome experience. :(

But I agree...we could never afford to do this dinner OOP. With tip it was $268 for the three of us. I left extra for Nelson so actually it was a little more. Anyway....what a difference the server makes!?

As an FYI...While we were at Narcoossee's, DS went to the Mouseketeer Club at the GF. You'd think the kid's club at the GF would be the best anywhere?! Nope. What a let-down after the Neverland Club! Take the extra few minutes to take the little kids to the Poly!

11-07-2007, 03:39 AM
Great review and pictures! Really enjoyed reading it so far.

Maybe you can answer this question for me about Crystal Palace, maybe not, but I figured it was worth a try to ask. I like prime rib, but I have to have mine well done. The mere sight of rare or even pink meat makes me queasy. Do you happen to know if they also offered prime rib on the well done side? Or if you could ask for a serving of it to be cooked more for you? Thanks in advance! :wizard:

11-07-2007, 12:22 PM
:thumbsup2 Loving your reviews!!

11-07-2007, 01:26 PM
great reviews & pics. THanks for adding the cost of 07 v 08... it's nice to see it written down.

Ms. Heimlich
11-07-2007, 01:58 PM
I am loving your reviews...

Most of your comments really sum up the way we feel about the 2008 DDP. Take away a huge benefit that amounts to about $20 per person per day, cause the dining to have OOP costs while on vacation, and only lower the price by 1 measly dollar. The whole thing reeks like yesterday's garbage.

I'm not sure we will be using it on our next trip (whenever that may be).

Keep up the reviews and pictures!

Ms. H

Praying Colonel
11-07-2007, 03:07 PM
Great review and pictures! Really enjoyed reading it so far.

Maybe you can answer this question for me about Crystal Palace, maybe not, but I figured it was worth a try to ask. I like prime rib, but I have to have mine well done. The mere sight of rare or even pink meat makes me queasy. Do you happen to know if they also offered prime rib on the well done side? Or if you could ask for a serving of it to be cooked more for you? Thanks in advance! :wizard:

Hi Sorcerer!

My Dad's the same way. He could only eat meat if it was very well done. (Odd, when you consider that he was a butcher. :confused3 )

IIRC, they sliced it on the spot, so I think it was all about the same. But the staff seemed very accomodating, and I bet if you asked them to take it back and cook you some a little longer, they'd do it.

11-07-2007, 05:40 PM
After seeing that picture of the cheese plate at Narcoossee's I sure wish I'd gone ahead and ordered it with a nice glass of port. D'OH, D'OH D'OH!!! :headache:

Love your reviews - they're very informative and well done! :thumbsup2

11-07-2007, 06:21 PM
Hi Sorcerer!

My Dad's the same way. He could only eat meat if it was very well done. (Odd, when you consider that he was a butcher. :confused3 )

IIRC, they sliced it on the spot, so I think it was all about the same. But the staff seemed very accomodating, and I bet if you asked them to take it back and cook you some a little longer, they'd do it.

When we at there in Sept I asked for it well done and she put a couple pieces on the grill for me

11-11-2007, 11:04 PM
Ahh, I love the review! And, I love that you're in Louisville but a Cats fan!!

That makes it even better! :banana:

11-12-2007, 02:35 PM
So gald you're feeling better and made it back to finish up your reviews. What a disappointing experience at Narcoossee's. To me, the signature restaurants should be a memorable experience for a ll the right reasons - and not the wrong ones. Although it does sound like you had an 'off' server rather than there being anything particularly wrong with the food :confused3

11-12-2007, 04:26 PM
Sorry about your experience at Narcoossee's; it was one of our favorite meals on our trip last month. Natalie was our server and she was fantastic--we did not get the feeling at all that it mattered that we were on DDP. We got the surf and turf and when DH thought his filet tasted "off", they immediately brought him a whole new plate with more cheesy potatoes and asparagus, too! Turned out it was the antibiotics DH had taken the week before, and reportedly don't have side effects for 5-10 days afterwards, so the steak was actually fine. Would have been nice to know that when they were prescribed! Our server was very gracious throughout. I had the almond cheesecake like you did and it was out of this world; I'm so sorry you didn't get to enjoy it at the restaurant.

We would not be able to swing this meal either without DDP; it was $215 for 2 adults and 1 child, plus we got a Cindy's slipper for DD6, which was $14ish plus tax/tip. I'll have to say, she ate it and some of her DDP dessert, too!

Good reviews, keep 'em coming!

11-12-2007, 05:11 PM
What AWESOME reviews! :thumbsup2

Thanks for the pics and the detail descriptions of your experiences.

Look forward to reading more.

09-29-2008, 09:03 PM
I'm just loving your reviews. I too love CHH. The hummus sandwich is the best with the tuna coming a close second. Can't wait to read more.